The calendar below, created by Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark, is an excellent way to keep on top of religious high holy days and festivals as they go by. It is especially useful for those in interfaith vocations who need this information on a day-to-day basis.
TIO is cooperating with another “working” religious calendar project being led by Read the Spirit. It extends what we usually mean by religious calendar to include important civic holidays. It identifies major religious holidays more than a year in advance. Most important, it features stories about what these many religious festival events are all about – what they mean, the important stories, the food associated, and how particular events are celebrated. Your own stories of religious holidays, whatever your tradition, are welcomed at the site. Check it out!
* * *
Religious Holy Days in January & February 2014
The Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony, in which old fires are extinguished and new fires are lit, and the Hopi Holy Cycle, in which the changing of the seasons and the nature of the Hopi sacred universe are celebrated, begin in January and February, but the dates of observance vary by tribe. It is also the season of K’aliyee, the time of the north wind that blows off glaciers and icecaps that linger from the last ice age.
The Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony, in which old fires are extinguished and new fires are lit, and the Hopi Holy Cycle, in which the changing of the seasons and the nature of the Hopi sacred universe are celebrated, begin in January and February, but the dates of observance vary by tribe. This month is also known as Buxwlaks or the season of blowing needles in aboriginal spirituality, in which the wind knocks loose the foliage of frozen evergreens. It marks the approach of the new year.
Tuesday, January 14
Makar Sankranti – Hinduism
A festival marking the change from decrease to increase of the sun.
Seijin-no-hi – Shintō
Coming-of-Age Day, a Japanese national holiday in which families travel to shrines and announce to the gods that their children have reached adulthood. Prayers are offered for the children’s wellbeing and lifelong health.
Wednesday, January 15
Tu B’Shevat – Judaism
A joyous celebration of the coming spring, including the planting of trees and the conservation of fruits native to Israel, as well as special meals where Jews eat the seven fruits of the land (wheat and barley; grapes; figs; pomegranates; olives; and honey). The festival begins at sundown.
Thursday, January 16
Mahāyāna New Year – Buddhism
This celebration falls on the first full moon day in January for Buddhists who practice in the Mahāyāna (Great Vehicle) stream. By contrast, in Theravadin countries (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Laos) the new year is celebrated in April, while Tibetan Buddhists generally celebrate it in March.
Saturday, January 18
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins – Christianity
Sunday, January 19
Sultán – Bahá’í
The first day of Sultán (Sovereignty), the seventeenth month of the Bahá’í year.
World Religion Day – Bahá’í
A celebration of the teachings of unity found in all religious traditions.
Monday, January 20
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day – USA national holiday
A day remembering the life and legacy of the American civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Saturday, January 25
Memorial of Hōnen Shonin – Buddhism
Anniversary of the death in 1212 C.E. of the founder of the Jōdo Shū (Pure Land) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism in Japan.
Thursday, January 30
Jashne Sadeh – Zoroastrianism
A celebration of the discovery of fire by King Hashang of the Peshdadian dynasty.
Friday, January 31
Chinese / Vietnamese / Korean New Year – Buddhism / Confucianism / Taoism
The first day after the new moon is a religious and cultural festival for Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese persons, marking the first day of the year 4712, the Year of the Horse.
Birth of Gurū Har Rai – Sikhism
A celebration of the birth of the seventh of the Sikh gurūs [1630 – 1661 C.E.], according to the Nanakshahi calendar.
Sunday, February 2
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple – Christianity
Commemorates Mary and Joseph’s presentation of the child Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, as required by Mosaic law.
Imbolc [also known as the Feast of Torches or Lughnassad] – Wicca
A celebration of beginning growth and the divine generative powers (i.e., the Goddess nurturing her young Son) from which physical and spiritual harvests will come, Imbolc is often an initiatory period.
Four Chaplains Sunday – Interfaith
A commemoration of four U.S. Army chaplains—Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Rev. George L. Fox, Fr. John P. Washington, and Rev. Clark V. Poling—who died while saving soldiers from drowning when their troop transport ship, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, was torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat in 1943. The four chaplains are remembered for their courage and their spirit of interfaith collaboration in service to humanity.
Monday, February 3
Setsunbun-sai – Shintō
A family celebration of the end of winter; beans are thrown into rooms of a house for good luck, with the shout, “Devils out, Fortune in!”
Tuesday, February 4
Vasanta Panchami – Hinduism
A North Indian celebration associated with Saraswati, the goddess of learning, and with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
Friday, February 7
Mulk – Bahá’í
Beginning of the eighteenth month of the Bahá’í year, the name “Mulk” means “dominion.”
Saturday, February 8
Parinirvana – Buddhism
Some Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions mark this date as the anniversary of the historical Buddha’s death in ca. 486 B.C.E. and his subsequent entrance into enlightenment or Nirvana. Other Buddhist schools mark this event on February 15th (see below).
Friday, February 14
Valentine’s Day – Western Christianity
A celebration of love originally connected to the Roman Christian martyr who died in 269 C.E.
Magha Puja Day [Dharma Day] – Buddhism
In the Theravāda Buddhist tradition, this full moon day of the third lunar month marks the historical Buddha’s sermon at Veruvana Monastery in the city of Rajagaha, where he spoke to 1250 enlightened monks who were ordained by him.
Saturday, February 15
Nirvana Day – Buddhism
In northern Buddhist traditions, this day marks the anniversary of the historical Buddha’s death in ca. 486 B.C.E. and his subsequent entrance into enlightenment or Nirvana. In southern Buddhist traditions, the Buddha’s death is commemorated during Visakha.
Sunday, February 16
Triodion begins – Christianity (Eastern churches)
This day marks the beginning of the ten weeks preceding Holy Pascha (Easter). The term Triodion refers to the book containing the liturgies for the worship services during this time period.
Wednesday, February 26
Ayyám-i-Há – Bahá’í [through March 1]
Starting at sundown, this festival marks the beginning of the intercalary days for festivities, gift giving, and charitable actions.
Friday, February 28
Mahashivratri – Hinduism
A night devoted to the worship of the god Shiva, whose dance creates and destroys and recreates the world; it is marked by vigils and fasting.
If you want more information about any of these holy days, please contact Spiritual Care Services at 415-353-1941 (Rev. Dr. Michele Shields) or 415-353-2319 (Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark). Our thanks to the Chicago Center for Cultural Connections, the Multifaith Action Soceity of British Columbia (Canada), and www.interfaithcalendar.org.